To Succeed, You Need to Start Asking Why

On the importance of personal development and the importance of focusing on yourself.

Martin Verbic
Aug 8 · 5 min read

For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been writing about getting better. But within this context of better, I also realised that there’s another vital thing to keep in mind and an area I want to devote more of my writing to. That is, focusing on yourself.

I want to devote this post to elaborate on why I think this is so important. This may sound rather egocentric, but I don’t think it’s wrong to do things for yourself.

It’s important that we feel good, that we’re satisfied with ourselves and with our lives. What better way is there to achieve satisfaction than to search for and focus on the things and activities that make us feel satisfied?

How do we achieve this? How do we find out what we want to do? And more importantly, why we want to do it?

These are all great and difficult questions without definitive answers. And I’m not here to tell you how to find your passion, because I don’t know. But I am here to tell you why you should find it and chase it.

Starting With Why

In his book, ‘Start With Why’, Simon Sinek tells the story of successful leaders. He examines why some companies and people are more successful than others.

There is something called “The Golden Circle” which consists of three things: why, how and what. Every organization or person knows “what” they do, whether that’s the product or service they offer. Some companies and people know “how” they do this. But very few of them know exactly “why” they do it.

However, those who have a clear sense of “why” and work to deliver a clear message to their audience are most successful.

Examples of such companies or individuals include Apple or Martin Luther King Jr. They worked to pursue their “why”, not their “what” (goal). Consequently, when the audience hears the message of “why” they do it, this stimulates the limbic part of their brain — that’s where emotion takes place — and people can hardly resist it. So they follow.

These people and companies were not successful because they knew their “why”, but because they put their “what” in the background and chased and worked towards their purpose. I believe anyone can do that, and this is yet another reason to focus on yourself.

Once we know “why” we do something and stop striving towards the “what”, the process becomes easy. It suddenly doesn’t matter how much time, energy and dedication we have to put into the “why”. We just do it. Because we act towards an instinct, not a reason, and focus solely on how to achieve our “why”, not “what”.

Studying medicine is an example of the importance of “why”. The decision to study it is to some people completely unreasonable. “Why would you put 6 years of hard work into studying only to be able to start specialising?”

Well, I know why. I hope all medical students know why. And that’s one reason to focus on finding the “why” behind the goal. Because medicine is not easy, it’s exhausting. And to think that I would have to do it just to do it, I would be insane.

It’s completely the same if someone tells you what to do. You stop doing things for yourself and conversely do things for others. And it gets even worse if we do things to beat others. This is also called social success, which is how we perceive ourselves in comparison to our peers. This leads to nothing but unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

This is exactly why you should start focusing on yourself.

Why Improve Yourself in the First Place?

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Let me elaborate my argument about focusing on yourself and develop it into a justification as to why you should improve. The two are tightly connected.

For one, improvement raises your quality of life. We develop different skills, enabling us to live better and more profoundly. Even more, if we choose to pay our knowledge forward, we improve the lives of people around us. We improve for the common good.

Contributing to society — to the development of our society and improve the lives of people that would otherwise live worse — is the single greatest cause for improvement. Period.

Think about how much people before you sacrificed to get our society where we are today. Were it not for those people, you wouldn’t be who, where and when you are right now. Why not give something back and thank all of the improvement that ever took place in our society? It’s a win-win.

The Takeaway

Every point in this post is somehow interconnected. When you focus on yourself and find your “why”, good things start to happen. When you find the cause to improve your “why” and give back to society, even better things happen.

Consider the Wright brothers, which Sinek also uses in the before mentioned book. Compared to their competitors, they weren’t educated about building planes. Nor had they any media coverage.

But they knew why they were doing what they were doing and were able to help shape today’s way of transport. It’s not fame, nor money. But the satisfaction and happiness one has when they truly know something valuable and worthy.

I don’t consider myself improved, nor do I consider myself an expert in this field. But I pursue the best version of myself and this website.

What I want to think I have is the passion and will to pursue improvement and pay it forward as it goes. That is why I write this blog.

Come On Board

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Note: This article contains an affiliate link.

Originally published at on August 8, 2019.

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Thanks to Adrian Drew

Martin Verbic

Written by

I'm a medical student writing about medicine, learning, thinking and success. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter at

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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